U.S. ‘rallying’ allies against Xinjiang forced labor as import ban begins

WASHINGTON — US Secretary of State Antony Blink said Tuesday that the US is mobilising its friends against forced labour as it starts to execute a ban on importing products from the Chinese province of Xinjiang, where Washington claims Beijing is committing genocide.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection started executing the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act, signed into law by President Joe Biden in December.

CBP has said that it is prepared to apply the law’s “rebuttable assumption” that all items from Xinjiang, where Chinese authorities created detention centres for Uyghurs and other Muslim populations, are manufactured using forced labour and are forbidden from importation until proved differently.

The agency has said that a high degree of proof would be necessary for importers to be granted an exemption to the legislation.

“We are rallying our friends and partners to eliminate the use of forced labour in global supply chains, condemn the crimes in Xinjiang, and join us in calling on the PRC government to put an end to the atrocities immediately.” and violations of human rights Blinken stated in a statement, referring to China by its official name, the People’s Republic of China.

China denies any abuses in Xinjiang, a key cotton grower that also provides a large portion of the world’s solar panel components.

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin stated yesterday in Beijing that charges of forced labour in Xinjiang were a “huge fabrication manufactured by anti-China forces.”

“With this so-called legislation, the US is attempting to create forced unemployment in Xinjiang and encourage the rest of the world to distance itself from China,” Wang added.

Beijing originally disputed the existence of detention camps, but subsequently agreed to establishing “vocational training facilities” to combat what it called terrorism, separatism, and religious extremism in Xinjiang.

CBP provided a list of Xinjiang organisations suspected of utilising forced labour last week, which included textile, solar-grade polysilicon, and electronics firms. He has said that imports from other nations would be forbidden if associated supply chains included Xinjiang inputs.

The United States, Britain, and other nations have requested that the International Labor Organization establish a mission to examine alleged labour violations in Xinjiang.

Given the difficulties of checking supply chains in China, human rights organisations and trade organisations that support local US companies have worried that Xinjiang supplies might become solar imports from other nations.

Biden dropped tariffs on solar panels from four Southeast Asian nations in early June, which the Coalition for a Prosperous America said demonstrated his administration’s lack of commitment to combating forced labour.

According to Alan Bersin, a former CBP commissioner who is now executive chairman of security technologies, it may take CBP two years to ramp up enforcement since the scope of the work is possibly more complex than the post-9/11 endeavour to trace terrorist funding.

“It’s nearing panic in the C-suites throughout the nation, because the major corporations really don’t have access into their supply chains other than the direct supplier,” Bersin said.

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